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Let’s face it, we’ve all been here before. We start off being in love with photography. We live and breath everything related to it, we take pictures of everything and anything, we obsess over the latest gear and gadgets until we almost alienate everyone around us. Who wants to get up at ungodly hours in the morning just to catch the most beautiful sunrise? But soon enough, the enthusiasm starts to slacken and you feel like you are taking the same photos over and over again. The good and the bad news is that photography is one of these art forms that is constantly evolving. Every day there is some new technique, new gear or even new post-processing style that seems to be quite the rage. So there are some simple and easy ways to stay inspired with your photography.
Like any other professional industry, documenting your photography goals is also a great idea. Often just voicing and acknowledging what is in your head is the first step towards achieving success. If you are just starting out, maybe limit yourself to a couple of reasonable goals and while you are at it, also document some tasks that will help you achieve your goals.
Maybe it is getting comfortable in shooting in Manual mode, or maybe it is being comfortable using off-camera flash. No matter what the goal, it is easier to achieve when you have a solid actionable plan to help you get there. Take this even a step further by actually writing and planning the execution steps needed to achieve that goal. If you want to learn how to shoot in manual, check out the other resources here on dPS, like Getting off Auto – Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priority modes explained. Schedule time every week to shoot for an hour or so in manual mode. Ask a photographer friend to help you learn the ropes. There are many ways to execute on your photography goals.
While it is great to be busy and earn a living doing what you love, it can also start to drain the creative spirit. Give yourself permission to take on a few passion projects, otherwise known as personal projects. These personal projects are a way for you to fall back in love with photography without any pressures or expectations. They can be projects that last for years or they can be projects that get completed within a month. Not matter what you choose, choose a topic that is near and dear to your heart and give it your best shot (pun absolutely intended here!). Read: 12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get you Motivated
Pick up your camera – whether it’s a DSLR, film camera or even your cell phone, and photograph something – anything. Don’t put much thought or plan towards the outcome. Sometimes it’s just the act of pressing the shutter without thinking of the end result that can provide the right amount of stress release. You can either look at the images or choose to delete your work. The whole point of this is just to enjoy the act of photography without expectations or stressing about creating the perfect frame.
Creativity does not always mean artistic. Sometimes being creative has nothing to do with art but everything to do with creating with your own hands. Creativity can be found in cooking a meal from scratch, exercising a new fitness routine, knitting or sewing, gardening, writing in a journal, or even just going for a walk outside and studying leaf patterns (what can I say, I live in Chicago where it is cold for more than six months of the year!!).
Let any or all of these activities flow without structure or planning. They are simply a means to release all that creative energy building up inside of you. Be kind to yourself and just give yourself some leeway to take a break from photography.
Especially at the beginning of the year a lot of folks opt for creative challenges like a 365 project where you take one photo every day, or a 52 week where you document each week of the year with a series of images. There are other flavors of this like shooting a single color for a week, photographing your daily meals, etc. Whatever is your self-challenge, document it and work on it. Perhaps even join or start a group online where others can participate with you. That can motivate you even further to keep the inspiration alive.
I hope this article has inspired you to not give up if you are feeling uninspired or dejected with your photography. With a few simple exercises and a conscious effort to change your mindset, you can come back more inspired and hopefully more motivated to explore all these wonderful facets of this art form that has so many ardent fans all over the world!
What are some things you have found successful when you are in a photography rut? Feel free to share those in the comments below to help other readers as well.